When Equestrian Life realised a local business were behind one of the trot-up outfits, it was the ideal opportunity to delve more into the history of this lovely small business and find out how it came to be and their plans for the future.
How did The Little Tweed Co idea start? When I found out I was pregnant with Clara in 2016 I began to sew having not sat at a sewing machine since AS Level Textiles. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so I made dungarees, rompers and blankets in neutral colours. Friends soon wanted me to make things for them too!
Clara was born during the middle of May 2017 and the machine didn’t get touched for a few months as we were all consumed by this tiny new bundle! (As every new parent knows sleep was also at a premium so when Clara slept the last thing I thought about was sewing!). Sleep returned and a family rhythm properly began around the middle of August, so I began sewing more winter weight clothes for Clara, her sister Miri and our friends children.
Tweed is a standard feature for all of us living on a farm in some way or another because it’s warm, durable, practical and smart. My lovely sister-in-law approached me around the beginning of November 2017 as she had a ball at the beginning of December; Game of Thrones themed and wanted something unique to wear. We decided on a cape, a Yorkshire flat tweed navy blue with a paisley lining and celtic style buttons. Very quickly The Little Tweed Company idea was born combining practicality and style, tweed never has to be boring and I wanted to bring all of these elements together to design and make beautiful pieces!
Originally I thought it would be a great way to make some extra money doing something I loved while on maternity leave. However, the company has gone from strength to strength, with a lot of hard work and support from some very good friends and family. I returned to work in June 2018 part time. Agriculture and farming are my other passion, I’m Energy & Forage Manager for a UK family owned Seed Breeder alongside running The Little Tweed Co.
So, all in all with a toddler, busy farm and husband, two geriatric horses and a part time job, The Little Tweed Co. must be a passion otherwise I wouldn’t do it. By June 2018 the company meant too much to me to let it stop, and we’ve carried on growing from there!
Where do you get your inspiration from? I’ve always had a keen interest in fashion. I love the countryside, and live and breathe the outdoors. My favourite colour is green, a staple in the tweed world, and most of the other colours we use are inspired by nature – it offers so many wonderful shades, all you need to do is look around! We are so lucky to be surrounded by countryside and most of my inspiration, especially for the colour palette, comes from my home in Lincolnshire. I like to design clothes for children which are more traditional in style; classics. Children should be allowed to be little in all aspects of growing up, I’m a big advocate of FreeRangeChildren growing up outdoors, splashing in puddles, running around and just having fun – I design clothes that allow that while being practical and still looking lovely!
Miri is great with advice about what 11 year olds might like to wear, and is brilliant at helping me draw designs, choose colours, fabrics, and is good with a sewing machine too. All the pieces I make go through a prototype stage; with me wearing it the garment must withstand feeding cattle, horses, driving the tractor and sometimes even bedding up. Miri tries the older children’s clothes, she’s very enthusiastic about farming and horses! Clara test drives the younger childrenswear and most certainly puts everything through its paces as well!! This means I can make tweaks as necessary to develop a final design I know will be brilliant for others.
Do you have a design background? Not at all, I’m self-taught! My only relevant qualification is a GCSE and then AS level in textiles. I do love to draw though and obviously now sew a lot! It started as a total passion project, and with everything the more you practice the easier it becomes, and things become second-nature.
Tell us about one of your favourite pieces to date My favourite piece from a creative and design point of view has to be Katie’s jacket worn at Badminton this week. The colours, the shape, and the necessity for movement made it a fabulous challenge to create, I spent many hours working on it and am so thrilled with the final product. Often your most recent creation is always your favourite – until the next one is finished!
One of my long-standing favourite pieces is Clara’s first pinafore dress, it will definitely be treasured forever. And my personal best, which makes me feel the most special when worn, is a pink tweed wrap I made using antique vintage lining embroidered with peacock feathers, it’s just one of those pieces I cannot wait to put on.
Was Badminton 2019 your first ‘trot up’? It’s our third time styling a trot-up outfit; Katie trotted up in our designs last year at Burghley, and we also sponsor Stamford-based eventer Nicole Mills, who trotted up at Blair last year wearing one of our pieces. It’s so lovely to combine my passion for everything equestrian with The Little Tweed Co. and I love working with brilliant riders to create something special to help them stand-out at the big events.
Did you find Katie Preston or did she find you? Nicole, previously mentioned, is a very old, very close friend of mine. She was actually one of my bridesmaids! She put a call out on her social media pages for someone to wear our designs at Burghley and Katie was one of the people who got in touch. Katie was a great fit for The Little Tweed Co. and the rest is history. We absolutely love working with her and it was such an honour to design her Badminton trot-up outfit this year!
Where can we find The Little Tweed Co? Our website is www.thelittletweedco.co.uk. It’s currently undergoing a makeover and the full site will be live towards the end of this month (May). For now, you can find us on Instagram: TheLittleTweedCo and Facebook: TheLittleTweedCo, or get in touch via email. Orders can be placed though either social media channel or on email.
I’m always happy to talk to a customer on the phone too or meet in person to get the garment just right, it’s important to us to really get to know exactly what our clients want so we can create something really special for them.
We also supply a couple of stores; Elderkins Gun Shop in Spalding have capes and skirts, and Feathers and Fluff Country stock some of our childrenswear online. We hope to have more garments in local shops and country stores across the UK before the end of the year. We will always supply all British sourced materials, handmade in the UK – at the moment it’s me and my team of two local ladies making but if we continue to grow we’ll be looking at expanding, which is so exciting!